The Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Full Care Guide

The Witch Hazel, otherwise known as the Hamamelis Virginiana or Virginian Witch Hazel, American Witch Hazel, Snapping Hazel Nut, Spotted Alder, Winter Bloom, is a somewhat well known shrub plant native to the Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Witch Hazel is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Witch Hazel Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Witch Hazel can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Witch Hazel needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.
  • Light: Keep your Hamamelis Virginiana in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Witch Hazel in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Witch Hazel will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.

Witch Hazel care

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Witch Hazel belongs to the Hamamelidaceae family, the genus Hamamelis and the species Virginiana, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Hamamelis Virginiana (ham-a-ME-lis vir-jin-ee-AH-na).

As with other Hamamelis’s, the Witch Hazel is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

 is a plant native to the The Hamamelis Virginiana is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

Knowing your plant’s native region is very useful, as it can give you tips on which environment is best for your Witch Hazel. If you keep it in mind, you can try to replicate these conditions at home, and you’ll likely end with a healthier plant.

With this in mind, the Hamamelis Virginiana will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a and the ideal climate zone is between 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Witch Hazel is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.


But what exactly does this mean for your Witch Hazel? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Hamamelis Virginiana can grow up to 15′ – 20′ (4.5m – 6m) in 15′ – 20′ (4.5m – 6m) and 15′ – 20′ (4.5m – 6m) in 15′ – 20′ (4.5m – 6m). 


In terms of watering, the Witch Hazel is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat irregular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Hamamelis Virginiana needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Witch Hazel bough


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Witch Hazel in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, and occasional flooding properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

In our experience, the famous ‘thumb’ or ‘finger’ test is what works best for the Witch Hazel since with it, you will be able to give it the right amount of water, every time – regardless of the environment or placement where you do decide to keep it.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Witch Hazel prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, and occasional flooding properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

This is why most experts agree that the Witch Hazel requires soil with clay, and high organic matter, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Witch Hazel requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Hamamelis Virginiana in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Witch Hazel will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Witch Hazel to flower around the fall and in the winter months from October to December (fall) and from January to March (winter).

In particular, this shrub is well known for its fragrant and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Witch Hazel produces some beautiful yellow, or red/burgundy, cream/tangold/yellow, and white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Witch Hazel have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Hamamelis Virginiana to be around (3-6 inches) in size.

Witch Hazel up close

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Witch Hazel is well known for its tolerance to clay soil, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Hamamelis Virginiana will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Witch Hazel? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of prairie and meadow, informal and cottage, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Witch Hazel’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, banks and slopes, and in hedges and screens, others use it for landscaping in a firescaping/fire wise,


So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Witch Hazel in your garden or home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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